by Rita Wall
THE Department of Education has been criticised by diocesan schools experts in Arundel and Brighton for failing to come clean over plans for a City Technology College in a redundant church building.
At the centre of the dispute is the sanctioning of a new City Technology College by the DES on the site of the former Fitzherbert Catholic Middle School in Brighton. The college will he one of a handful of joint ventures between Whitehall and industry to shape a technical secondary education.
"Sale of the Fitzherbert Catholic School to a firm of property developers was completed earlier this month" explained Fergus Brotherton, financial advisor to the diocesan schools' commission. "The diocesan authorities had gone to considerable trouble and expense to secure planning consent for housing development on the property and naturally we assumed that the purchasers were going to use the land for this purpose."
However, the property had been brought so as to establish a
City Technology College. "The usual preliminary enquiries about the purchasers bonafide had simply established that they were reputable and had the necessary funds to complete the purchase," said Mr Brotherton.
The Fitzherbert Catholic School was closed in July because of falling numbers. It was sold to meet the large diocesan bill resulting from a re-organisation of Catholic schools in East Brighton.
Though Mr Brotherton was adamant that the diocese was not against the building of a City Technology College per se, the Church has not so far supported the setting up of these establishments.